This morning, Time announced its 2017 Person of the Year pick, and the choice was powerful: The magazine honored "the silence breakers," highlighting women in different industries who have refused to stay quiet about sexual harassment.
The cover included Ashley Judd, who went on the record with accusations against Harvey Weinstein; Taylor Swift, who in her first real interview of 2017 spoke about her court case against a DJ who groped her; Isabel Pascual, a strawberry picker who didn't use her real name in order to protect her family; Susan Fowler, who exposed sexual harassment at Uber; and Adama Iwu, a corporate lobbyist who was groped in front of several colleagues.
If you notice the elbow on the right, you'll see that there was a sixth woman: a hospital worker from Texas who was there anonymously, to represent those who are not able to speak out.
The cover story went far beyond the entertainment industry, interviewing a lobbyist, a journalist, a strawberry picker, a housekeeper, an engineer, and a state senator. The variety of professions and backgrounds Time represented helps assert, once and for all, that sexual harassment affects women in every walk of life.
"From a distance, these women could not have looked more different," the magazine describes the day the women met for their photo shoot. "Their ages, their families, their religions, and their ethnicities were all a world apart. Their incomes differed not by degree but by universe: Iwu pays more in rent each month than Pascual makes in two months."
A study released in May found that women who were sexually harassed were 6.5 times more likely to change jobs, and there are countless stories about women who have left their jobs or careers because of harassment.
Time interviewed dozens of people over the course of six weeks. And while some of them have a bigger platform or more money, the magazine says, "They often had eerily similar stories to share."
All of the women in the story spoke out in the ways they could. Iwu, the lobbyist, organized 147 women to sign an open letter revealing harassment in California's government. Crystal Washington, a hospitality coordinator at the Plaza Hotel, is filing a lawsuit against the Plaza together with other employees. Pascual, a strawberry picker from Mexico, and other farmworkers marched on Hollywood streets in solidarity with women in entertainment in November.
As a member of a vulnerable population, Pascual had more to lose. "Those who are often most vulnerable in society — immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income workers, and LGBTQ people — described many types of dread," notes Time's report.
The Person of the Year story was inclusive in more than one way. As Time correspondent Charlotte Alter noted on Twitter, it was the labor of mostly women: "This was conceived, reported and written by women. It was fact-checked by women. The video was shot and edited by women. The layout and photo spread were designed by women."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call theRAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).